Robinson’s abortion guidelines claim ‘complete nonsense’, says Ford

First Minister Peter Robinson. Photo Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Press
First Minister Peter Robinson. Photo Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Press

First Minister Peter Robinson is talking “complete nonsense” in suggesting that abortion guidelines could allow for abortion in cases of fatal foetal abnormality, the Justice Minister has said.

David Ford accused Mr Robinson of “a complete U-turn” after the DUP leader indicated on Thursday night that his party would block Mr Ford’s bill to allow for a very limited increase in the areas in which it is legal to have abortion in Northern Ireland.

Just last week, Mr Robinson had suggested to the News Letter that his MLAs would be given a free vote on the issue.

In a televised interview with The View last night, Mr Robinson said that issuing guidelines would be better than bringing forward legislation.

“There are draft guidelines that are working their way through,” he said.

“I expect within the next week or so we will have a draft of them at the executive and hopefully ministers can look at a better way through guidelines.”

But the Alliance leader told BBC Radio Ulster’s Good Morning Ulster: “It was a complete U-turn from the position that had been previously adopted by Peter Robinson and other members of the DUP when they talked about allowing a free vote on the legislation.

“To suggest that guidelines can solve this issue is complete nonsense — guidelines explain the law as it currently stands, and these guidelines have been floating around since 2009 with various legal challenges.”